Tag Archives: food prices

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: August 17

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Check out these five stories from the foodservice industry from August 13-17.

President Obama Announces $170 Million in Federal Aid for Farmers

From Washington Post Politics, Read Full Story

In last week’s “Week in Brief,” we discussed the drought and how it is affecting America’s heartland, which will inevitably affect food prices worldwide.  Due to the harsh conditions, during President Obama’s stop in Iowa on Monday August 13, he announced the government would provide $170 million in aid to help farmers and ranchers.

In a Washington Post Politics article, they said “During the announcement, Obama repeated his call for Congress to pass a farm bill that includes short-term relief measures for the drought-stricken agricultural industry.”

Eggs… Dangerous?

From Huff Post Food, Read Full Story

The egg. “The incredible edible egg.” A breakfast staple that many restaurants now include in their menu all day long.  However according to a Western University researcher in London, eggs might not be as healthy as we think they are.

Huff Post Food reported the researcher “claims the cholesterol found in yolks is almost as dangerous as smoking.” Through studies, this researcher discovered consuming eggs speeds up plaque build up on arteries. But then again, there are others such as Nutrition Officer Karen Harvey which told Huff Post Food their “decades of clinical research demonstrating no link between egg consumption, and an increase of heart disease.”

Restaurant Industry May Slow for 2013

From NDP Group, Read Full Story

Over the last few years, in the midst of the the United States’ current economic situation, restaurants have been doing well.  However according to a recent NDP Group study, the restaurant industry may be losing its momentum.  Despite positive outcomes during the uniquely mild winter, the spring months only rose one percent, which was lower than expected.  With customers still struggling in the economic situation, which includes the high unemployment rate, NDP has adjusted growth over the next two years to only be one percent.

Diners at a Los Angeles Restaurant Get a 5 Percent Discount for Putting Down their Cell Phone

From EATER, Read Full Story

The cell phone is more than just a phone.  It’s practically a miniature computer that people are constantly on, perhaps maybe even addicted too.  Many restaurants have become aggravated with customers using cell phones while dining out.  It can be frustrating to wait staff trying to assist diners, or it’s a distraction to the other customers sitting around.  One restaurant owner, Mark Gold of Eva Restaurant, has come up with a solution.

In an EATER article, they reported Gold will give his customers a five percent discount if they give up their cell phone when they dine at the restaurant.  And even though it can be bothersome from the reasons stated above, Gold told southern California’s KPCC the new discount opportunity isn’t about bothering guests. He said, “It’s about two people sitting together and just connecting, without the distraction of a phone.”

Don’t Forget to Sign Your Restaurant Up for Dine Out for No Kid Hungry

Share Our Strength’s Dine Out for No Kid Hungry is just around the corner.  Has your restaurant signed up yet?  Dine Out for No Kid Hungry is an event for restaurants during the month of September to raise money to help end childhood hunger. The official week is from September 15-22; however Share Our Strength encourages restaurants to participate longer if they can.

In the past, the event has raised $2.4 million and has a goal this year to raise $5 million.  Signing up is easy and Share Our Strength makes sure restaurants have all the resources they need.  Check out our July blog for more information, and visit the Dine Out for No Kid Hungry and sign your restaurant up today.  Time is running out!

 

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: 8/10

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Check out these five stories from the foodservice industry from August 6-10.

Drought Continues to Cause an Increase in Food Prices

From CNN Money, Read Full Story

Based on the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor (published every Thursday), most of the country is experiencing drought anywhere from abnormally dry to exceptionally dry.  Unfortunately, the areas hit the hardest are in the nation’s heartland, where most of the country’s farms are based.  According to CNN Money, the impact will continue to cause food prices to rise worldwide.

Newsweek Releases ‘101 Best Places to Eat in the Word’

From Huff Post Food, Read Full Story

Newsweek recently released their latest issue, which is dedicated to food and includes the “101 Best Places to Eat in the World.” Huff Post Food said the issue includes restaurant recommendations from “53 of the world’s most famous chefs, including Anthony Bourdain, David Chang, Anita Lo, Lidia Bastianich and more.”  However, the somewhat-seductive cover has caused controversy.  (Click Huff Post Food article and scroll down to view).

U.S. Cities Create Stronger Rules and Restrictions for Food Truck Owners

From Mobile Cuisine News, Read Full Story

Ever since food trucks had their boom in popularity and essentially became highly respected restaurants on wheels, it’s caused some tension with restaurants that say the food trucks are taking away their business.  Mobile Cuisine News said many cities are setting rules on where trucks can park and how long they are there.  Some cities have even proposed rules to require food trucks to install GPS systems that enable cities to track where a truck is, or that a truck must change locations every 45 minutes.

For many truck owners, the rules are frustrating.  One of their questions is “if two restaurants can open up next to each other, why are they being restricted on where they can park?” Especially when they are forking out sometimes $50,000 in start-up costs, then thousands of dollars after for maintenance and modifications.

Starbucks Teams Up with Square Inc. to Accept Payments

From Square, Read Full Story

On Wednesday August 8, Starbucks and Square announced their partnership to enhance Starbucks customers’ payment experience.  Square is a company that enables businesses to accept credit card payments on Android phones, iPhones and iPads with their free Square Card Reader.

In this collaboration, Starbucks will invest $25 million in Square Inc. and their chairman, president and CEO, Howard Shultz, will join Square’s board of directors.  Square also said starting Fall 2012, in addition to being able to make payments with the iPhone or Android on the card reader, customers will be able to use “Pay with Square,” a feature that will allow them to pay straight from their device.

Nation’s Restaurant News’ Special Report on Consumer Picks Released

From Nation’s Restaurant News, Read Full Story

For the second year in a row, NRN released their “Consumer Picks,” a special feature that shares consumer’s opinions of 152 restaurant chains.  Through this survey, they came up with a few “top 5’s”–some of them being:

 

 

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: July 19

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Check out these five stories from the foodservice industry from July 16-20.

U.S. Drought To Affect Food Prices

From HuffPost Green, Read Full Story

When looking at the U.S. Drought Monitor for the week of July 16, almost every state is at least experiencing abnormally dry conditions, but a majority of states fall under the moderate, severe and extreme drought categories.

This drought is bad news for farmers and may soon mean a rise in food prices too.  A HuffPost Green article reported grain prices in the Midwest are “near or past records.”  Prices for soybeans, corn and other crops have increased as well.  They spoke with U.S. Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsak, who said a rise in grain prices could mean higher meat and poultry prices in the future.

 Burger King’s Lettuce Fiasco

From Los Angeles Times Business, Read Full Story

A Cleveland Burger King employee caused quite a stir this week after posting a picture of himself standing on two tubs of lettuce.  The L.A. Times said there were actually three employees involved in the incident, all of which have been fired.

Burger King released a statement that said “food safety is a top priority at all Burger King restaurants and the company maintains a zero-tolerance policy against any violations such as the one in question.”

The Latest on California’s Foie Gras Ban

From HuffPost Food, Read Article and Northridge-Chatsworth Patch, Read Article

On July 1, California banned the sale of foie gras, the fatty liver of an animal (typically ducks or geese).  Restaurants caught serving the item can be fined up to $1,000.  “Foie gras is usually produced through a process in which ducks or geese are force fed corn through tubes and inserted in their throats, a practice seen as inhumane by animal rights activists,” said a Northridge-Chatsworth Patch article.

The foie gras ban has caused an uproar by restaurants and patrons who serve or enjoy the menu item and many have even made attempts to reverse the ruling but have so far been unsuccessful.  However, HuffPost Food reports restaurants are still finding ways to serve foie gras.  Some of the loopholes restaurants have found have been stating they are on land owned by a federal agency (and not the state of California), serving it as free side dish or cooking foie gras brought in by customers.

Changes in Restaurant Bread Service

From MonkeyDish, Read Article

A complimentary bread basket is common in many restaurants, but things are beginning to change now that foodservices are providing more upscale options and charging for them.

MonkeyDish spoke with Professor Ezra Eichelberger of the Culinary Institute of America who said, “Bread is a sign of hospitality and it imparts a feeling of spirituality and sharing to guests, but you have to cover your costs.”  He added customers are okay to upgrade as long as the bread is of higher quality, but providing free bread is beneficial to keep on the menu as well.

New York Trans Fat Regulation is Working

From CNN, Read Article

The ban on trans fats that New York City put into place five-years-ago  is proving to be successful.  CNN reported city health officials have discovered the amount of unhealthy fats customers have ate in fast food has drastically decreased.

Also, many of the large fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc., have actually implemented changes to locations nationwide in addition to New York City.  The changes were subtle and many customers did not even notice them.  These results come at a time when another controversial ban has been proposed, the sale of sugary beverages.

 

 

Image from MorgueFile

The Rising Cost of Food: Why Going Out is Still an Option

Image from MorgueFileHave you been out to dinner lately?  Went grocery shopping?  Chances are you’ve probably done both in the last month or so.  However, just in case you’ve been hibernating for the winter and weren’t aware, prices for everything under the warming spring sun have been on the rise.

Even though the economy is slowly inching back to normal, droughts, freezing and battles overseas have put a drain on every aspect of the food economy.   According to an article in the Boston Globe, The US Department of Agriculture has predicted that US food prices are expected to jump between 3 and 4 percent this year, about twice the general rate of inflation, after rising last year by the slowest rate since 1962.

These price hikes have led many grocery stores increase prices to the consumer which means huge hikes in the average family’s spending.  According to a 2009 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the same Boston Globe article, Americans spent more than $3,500 annually, or about $72 a week, on average in 2009 on groceries.  Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst at NPD told Reuters, “Right now, supermarket prices are rising faster than restaurant prices.”  He also added, “While Americans prepare 72 percent of their meals at home, they spend almost half of their food dollars in restaurants.”

This spending could be due to the fact that restaurants have a variety alternatives to take advantage of along with increasing prices.   One such choice, especially with larger chains, is to lock in prices on items that are likely to go up in price, whereas grocery stores have a much harder time negotiating.   Restaurants have also tried other tactics to keep business afloat during the down economy such as Applebee’s value based 2 for $20 menu that has allowed sales to grow by up to 17 percent according to Nation’s Restaurant News.

Restaurant, Image from MorgueFileSmaller, more local businesses have also both felt the strain of the economy and found ways of working around it.  Ron and Eric of Rock Star Pizza say they’ve stopped using green peppers because the item has gone up by 600%.  Alternatively, Keith Reilly of O’Reilly’s Irish Bar and Restaurant has begun looking for ingredients to use in dishes that will reduce costs and allow him to stay competitive.  However, even with small price boosts and item substitutions, both owners say business has actually increased.  Reilly says the improved traffic is “obviously not because of rising costs.  We have wonderful regulars and a great staff who produce a great product at a competitive price.”  Ron and Eric, feel their amplified business is due to the fact that “A lot of people are “Dining Down” saying that instead of going somewhere more expensive, “They can get the same dining experience for less at my Pizzeria.”

So while global food prices rose 25 percent last year and set a record last month, according to the United Nations in an article from Business Week, there are some good signs of more affordable opportunities.  During this time it’s most important to shop around both at the grocery and for restaurants.  So many eateries are making an attempt to make customers happy and keep prices down.  Look for lower cost alternatives to your favorite dishes and maybe you’ll even find an exciting new item or restaurant that might save you that extra dough!

What price increases have you noticed either in the stores or while out to eat?  Have you taken steps to cut costs on food?  Share your tips and experiences with us below!

Could An Increase In Food Prices Affect Your Business?

Information about a rise in food prices is hard to find but there is buzz about it around different news websites.  Some U.S. food prices have already gone up and it’s estimated more will in 2011.

Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A CNBC article by Brian Shactman posted numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Consumer Price Index Report for food. Prices are expected to increase by two to three percent next year. Shactman points out this doubles 2010’s numbers.

While wholesale prices began increasing in 2009, many restaurants have been taking in the increased costs and not passing them on to customers. However, Shactman found this is changing.

In today’s economy, consumers are cutting costs, and an increase in prices at restaurants may have an impact on businesses.

Another article by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, mentions big food companies such as Kraft Foods, General Mills and McDonalds have announced they will be raising prices. This shows places are beginning to take action.

While much of the information available about an increase in food prices is speculation, opinion and estimation, we want to know about how this may affect your restaurant. What have you heard and are you preparing? If so, what changes will you have to make? Please join in the discussion. We want to hear from you.

How to combat rising food costs

According to the National Restaurant Association, food costs are one of the most important line items for a restaurateur. Research shows that food and beverage costs represent approximately 33 cents of every dollar in restaurant sales. The Association projects restaurateurs and other foodservice operators will buy $202.5 billion in food and drink from industry suppliers in 2008. It also predicts wholesale food costs and menu prices will continue to rise, in part as a result of rising energy costs.

How to save

Star Chefs is a website for culinary professionals, and lists several tools for keeping food costs manageable.

First, costing out the menu is crucial to controlling food cost. The easiest place to begin is at the bar due to price control. From there, move on to the food. Each category should be broken down into more useful ratios. Have the chef or sous chef cost out the menu since they deal the most with the product.

Scott Ebbert is a sales manager at Central Restaurant Products, and a Certified Foodservice Professional. He advises simply managing your waste responsibly. Train your staff to prepare only as much food as needed, and not to over-portion. Saving on food is as simple as accurately weighing and measuring each portion.

Products that help control portions

Many steamtable pans have portion control capacities stamped on the side. Likewise, condiment dispensers and pumps also are often designed to allow for accurate portioning. Portion control scales are specifically designed with cost-savings in mind. And don’t forget the oldest trick in the book for measuring every portion: the spoodle.

If food cost is a consistent problem, an operator should start taking inventory weekly, checking with the supplier to make sure they are not overcharging, or sending produce that isn’t fresh.

Talk to a Certified Foodservice Professional for more tips on how to save money in the kitchen.